CONTEMPORARY NEW ZEALAND JEWELRY 
 
AVID GALLERY

By Marbeth Schon



Avid Gallery
 Wellington,
  New Zealand

This is the first in a three part article for MODERN SILVER magazine about the jewelry and metalwork of New Zealand.  

This past March, I had the very good fortune to spend three weeks in New Zealand with my American Field Service sister, Annie Collins. Annie had just finished her editing work on the last film of  "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "Return of the King", and I arrived in Wellington from Los Angeles on the same day as did the Oscar for editing. Needless to say, there was much celebration!

Knowing of my interest in jewelry and metalwork, Annie and had done some preparatory field work before I arrived.  She found that the Avid Gallery, located at 48 Victoria Street in Wellington, carries work by some of  New Zealand's best contemporary artist/jewelers. The Avid gallery has been carrying applied arts including jewelry, pottery, glass, etc, for about twelve years. We visited Avid and I was able to photograph a few pieces from their March, 2004 exhibit titled "TAKE A BEAD."

My contacts at Avid were Caryl McKirdy and Anna Hesp. Anna (shown here in front of one of the cases of  glass and jewelry), has a passionate interest in the handmade objects and jewelry offered at the gallery. She was a well informed  source of information about the materials and techniques of the various artist/craftsmen represented.
When one thinks of New Zealand's jewelry, two materials usually come to mind: paua shell and New Zealand green stone. Paua, (the shell of New Zealand's native abalone) that ranges in color from turquoise to black and pink,  is often set in silver necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc., and can be found in tourist shops at modest prices. Nephrite or Jade, most commonly known in New Zealand as greenstone or, by Maori (New Zealand's indigenous people), as Pounamu, is the country's" mineral icon."1  

To fully appreciate the work of New Zealand's artist/craftsmen, one must first have some understanding of the country's unique combination of European and Pacific Island culture. The Maori language has no separate words for craft, art, and design, (which are experienced as integral to life). Maori people developed a unique art form evolved from highly practical skills. Generations of Maori artisans  put these skills to use in making everything from "canoes (waka) to farm tools, weapons, and clothing, in materials derived from plants, wood, stone, animal and bird skins and feathers."2 These natural materials continue to be integral to the work of New Zealand's artist/craftsmen, whether Maori or Pakeha (people of non-Pacific Island heritage).  An exhibition in the 1980s titled "Stone Bone & Shell" "profiled the use of indigenous New Zealand materials by  Pakeha carvers, sculptors and jewelers."  This movement continues to grow and today, "skills have been passed back to non-Pakeha carvers, including artists with Maori and Pacific bloodlines "3

Not unlike the United States and Europe, the work of artist/craftsmen in New Zealand has historically been less visible in museums and fine collections as the work of those who create fine art, i.e., painting and sculpture. After World War II, however, along with the wider acceptance of modern art in Europe and America, the division between crafts and art narrowed and there were more national and international exhibits of pottery, jewelry, weaving, etc.  Primitivism (seen in the work of the Cubists and Abstract Expressionists in the fine arts) with it's emotional, cultural, and iconographic references, and functionalism (a tenet of the Bauhaus) became integral to contemporary crafts at that time. This melding of disciplines found "common ground with the visual arts of Maori and Pacific Islanders."4

Helen Shramroth, in her preface to the book 100 New Zealand Craft Artists, states  that "The most compelling reason for allowing craft art to merge with fine art and design was to acknowledge the "seamlessness' of these practices within Maori and Pacific Island cultures."5  

Carved bloodstone pod pendant by Craig McIntosh 
Avid Gallery

Pakeha carver/jeweler Craig McIntosh graduated with a Diploma in Visual Arts in 2002. Since that time he has worked in "Netsuke" (a type of Japanese carving) using bloodstone, New Zealand greenstone (pounamu), and jade.  He shows his work at the Avid Gallery and has also exhibited a number of times in Tokyo. 

Carved pounamu karo seed pendant with silver by Craig McIntosh 
Avid Gallery

Carved jade pendant by Craig McIntosh 
Avid Gallery

Pakeha carver, Joseph Sheehan is the son of one of New Zealand foremost jade carvers, John Sheehan. Though he learned to carve in his father's workshop, he studied art in many different mediums at the Unitec Institute of Technology where he developed his own distinctive style. He is a now full-time carver with his own studio in Auckland.

Carved Russian jade bangle bracelet by Joseph Sheehan
Avid Gallery

Black Jade and inlaid red enamel pin by  Joseph Sheehan
Avid Gallery

Maori jeweler Areta Rachael Wilkinson explores her identity through her art which reflects the "relationship between traditional cultures and contemporary society." She states:

Jewellery acts as identifier – a public tohu (sign), an interface or boundary - between wearer and the world, a conduit connecting the past and future carrying narratives, gaining momentum through time. My practice is an exploration of turangawaewae (identity) – the place I stand and that is not alone. 

He iti ra, he iti mapihi pounamu
I may be small but I am an ornament of greenstone
 
(Nga Puhi proverb)
6

Sterling brooch by Areta Rachael Wilkinson
Avid Gallery

Sterling silver folded roses by Areta Rachael Wilkinson
Avid Gallery

Sterling silver tipare weaving
 brooch by Areta Rachael Wilkinson
Avid Gallery

Gold, intrinsically much rarer and more valuable than silver, is used by contemporary artist/jewelers, not as a statement of the wearer's wealth, but for it's color, softness, texture, etc., within an overall design statement.

Bracelet and ring
rolled 22 karat gold over silver organza
by Joanna Campbell
Avid Gallery

 

Joanna Campbell won the Dowse Art Museum Thomas Foundation gold Award in 2002 which gave her the opportunity to create a major piece in 22 karat gold. She is technically very fluent and you can see a close connection to fashion and the clothing industry in her work. She creates bracelets and rings from rolled gold over silver organza. She says, “I am interested in exploring the relationship between fabric and metal.”   This interest creates a constant resource for new design ideas.  In 2002, for six months, she was part of the jewelry team responsible for the production of the ornate armor for the samurai costumes in the film “The Last Samurai.”7

Bracelet and ring
Sterling silver over silver organza
by Joanna Campbell
Avid Gallery


 

Bugle bead brooch
oxidized sterling silver, 
silk organza, and
handmade gold beads
by Joanna Campbell
Avid Gallery

 

 
Dunedin jeweler Blair Smith says, "I see jewelry as a personal statement both for me and the wearer. Important in my work is jewelry's historical role as a symbolic, ritualistic message carrier.  I want my pieces to be memorable, emotional, sometimes whimsical, and always wearable."8

"Crowded Hearts" necklace
 sterling silver and 18k gold by Blair Smith
Avid Gallery

 

Roses are a personal symbol for Auckland jeweler Penelope Barnhill. She processed her grief over the death of a close family member by working in rose motifs as memorials. 

Barhill works mostly in sterling silver, but also uses gold for it's color and softness. She sometimes uses actual plant forms in her jewelry that "break down against the body, and dry and change in nature."  This natural distortion of the object creates unknown developments that become part of Barnhill's art. 9 

necklace by Penelope Barnhill
 garnets and gold
Avid Gallery

 

Chilean born, Elsa Evangelina Krasniansky has lived most of her life in New Zealand. She says that "she became interested in jewelry as a form of body adornment signaling cultural identity."  She states that she aims to "make work which is totally individual and reflects any sources of inspiration with emphasis in ritual and performance dimensions."10

"River" necklace by Elsa Evangelina Kransniansky
 sterling silver
Avid Gallery

 

 

Internationally known, award winning jeweler, Tatyana Panyoczki was born in  Zurich, Switzerland in 1969.   Between 1987-1989, she trained as an apprentice in theatrical make-up design and wig making in Lausanne and Geneva, Switzerland.  

She came to New Zealand in 1993 where she studied three-dimensional  design at Unitec in Auckland. "Simplicity and minimalism are key factors in her work - repetitions of a simple form, which are found in everyday life. Observing the way things meet,  join, and how they relate to each other is one important source of her inspiration. Tatjana also calls herself an object designer. she pushes and explores the boundaries of jewelry and its connotations - however the relationship to the body will remain."11

Brooch
by Tatyana Panyoczki
gold and sterling silver 
Avid Gallery

 

 

Brooch
by Tatyana Panyoczki
gold and sterling silver 
Avid Gallery

 

Brooch by Tatyana Panyoczki
gold and sterling silver 
Avid Gallery

 
Frances Stachl studied painting at Wanganui Polytechnic and jewelry at Whitireia. She  has been exhibiting and selling her work at Avid Gallery since 2000. 

Sterling silver wire bead necklace by Frances Stachl
Avid Gallery
 
Barry Clarke, a versatile artist who was once a British merchant sailor, settled in New Zealand and became proficient in a wide variety of media.  He is a sculptor, painter, and an extraordinarily talented artist/jeweler.

He marries gold with silver in subtly beautiful designs with surfaces reminiscent of ancient and Byzantine art.

Sterling silver and gold necklace by Barry Clarke
Avid Gallery

Many thanks to Avid for allowing their collection to be photographed.


You can email Avid at info@avidgallery.co.nz.

___________________________________

1"JEWELLERY: ACCENT ON DESIGN," arrival, Visitors Guide to New Zealand, pg. 26
2"He Taonga Maori--Maori Treasures,"  arrival, Visitors Guide to New Zealand, pg. 29
3
http://www.craftvic.asn.au/south/nthisland.htm
4Helen Schamroth, 100New Zealand Craft Artists, pg. x
5Ibid, pg. vii
6 http://www.craftvic.asn.au/south/nthisland.htm
7Biography of Joanna Campbell, courtesy of Avid Gallery
8The First Craft New Zealand Yearbook, pg. 20
9Helen Schamroth, 100New Zealand Craft Artists, #6.
10Elsa Evangelina Krasniansky, Curriculum Vitae
11 http://www.objet.co.nz/Tatjana/TP-profile.htm

_______________________

Article and photographs by Marbeth Schon and courtesy of Avid Gallery

Web design by Marbeth Schon  
 Copyright © 2004 Modern Silver Magazine
 
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